Berklee Student Launches Fundraiser for Native Philippines

Debra Filcman
December 5, 2013
Jorel Corpus has incorporated music into his fundraiser for his native Philippines.

Berklee music production and engineering student Jorel Corpus is proud of The Bayanihan Project, a new album he compiled for typhoon relief, but even prouder to lend a hand to his home country.

Days after Typhoon Haiyan hit the central Philippines on November 8, the Manila native reached out to musical friends—some still studying at Berklee, others working in New York or Los Angeles—to solicit tracks for the album.

“My friend is a pastor there and was already asking for prayers” before the Category 5 storm hit, says Corpus, “so I was standing by. That weekend was chaos. Monday morning, I messaged friends I knew from school and started putting this together.”

The Philippines is accustomed to typhoons, but it has never seen one as severe. The storm destroyed entire cities, killed more than 5,000 people and has impacted an estimated 10 million residents.

Corpus, who contributed one of his own tracks to the album, was overwhelmed by the response he received from fellow musicians for The Bayanihan Project, named for the Filipino word for an event in which an entire town helps move a house on stilts. Corpus engineered and produced some of the tracks on the album and got in touch with one of his connections who works for a Los Angeles mastering lab, which generously agreed to master the album gratis.

But the album is just a piece of Corpus’s efforts to help his home country; within weeks of the typhoon, he used his own money to launch a fundraiser, with 100 percent of donations going to the Red Cross. The Bayanihan Project is a gift to all who contribute to the cause.

“Music can really help people emotionally and spiritually. It can soothe,” Corpus says. “But I also want things done on the ground. I’m a very practical person. I hope this is a vehicle for the people of the Philippines to receive the most basic needs.”

His goal? To raise $20,000 toward the relief efforts.

“I wanted to aim high because what else can you do?” Corpus says.

In addition to the worthy cause it supports, the album is also a testament to the musicianship behind it.

“As a producer and engineer, coming from a musical perspective, I’m most excited about how this album is a good microcosm of the industry,” say Corpus. “It contains people doing pop, hip-hop, rock, rap.”

Corpus grew up in the Philippines, where he put out a few albums and played in professional bands for about 10 years before enrolling at Berklee. Now finishing his degree in music production and engineering, Corpus plans to head to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the industry.

“I wanted to see how the ‘big people’ were doing it in the U.S.,” Corpus says of his move overseas. I wanted to immerse myself in the culture, and this school has a big reputation, too.”

Last March, he spent some time in L.A. checking out various studios, and when he finishes his course work this semester, he’ll head west.

In the meantime, Corpus is doing his part for disaster relief in the Philippines.

“I couldn’t physically be there to help out,” Corpus says. “I thought this was the quickest way that I could help out in the relief efforts. I wanted to give people the most personal token of gratitude I can, that speaks to who I am.”

Donate through The Bayanihan Project on the site or preview the tracks on SoundCloud